PM wants thorough tests on seized mineral sands

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has taken samples of mineral sand from different containers at the Kahama-based Buzwagi Gold Mine in Shinyangaregionwhich he intends to subject to detailed analysis by mineral experts.

The premier disclosed that the government wants to make an assessment of the amount of gold within the mineral sand which was due to be exported by an investor, adding that the government also wants to find out if all the various forms of taxes were being paid.

Earlier this month, President John Magufuli banned investors from exporting mineral sands, directing the Energy and Minerals Minister, Professor SospeterMuhongo, to fully enforce the sanction. Last Monday night, the prime minister made an impromptu tour of the mining site where he collected samples of the mineral sandsin order satisfy himself on what ought to be exported so far.

The samples were taken from the containers that had already been sealed for export just before the government moved-in. We have decided to take the samples which the investor tells us were to be sent outside for smelting to separate the gold from copper (concentrates) but Ive asked the investor to clarify why they do not bring in the equipment into the country to have the work directly done here, he said.

Mr Majaliwa stresses that the countrys investment policy states clearly that the turbines for mineral smelting should be available locally so that all the process could be conducted internally, so we want to prove beyond reasonable doubt the income that goes to the investor.

He added:Thats one of the conditions of investment in the mining sector in this country the mineral smelting industries should be available locally so that it can help further create employment as well as developother sectors including agriculture.

Mr Majaliwa further asked Tanzanians to be tolerant as the government continues with investigations on the impacts of such mineral exports; he also moved to clear fears from workers in the mineral sector that they would not face any retrenchment.

The mine's sustainability manager, MrGeorgeMkanza, told the premier that the mine kicked off operations in 2009 and that it had so far employed 720 permanent staff and 500 part-time workers.

According to him, each day, the company was packaging between three to six containers of mineral sands in which they obtain at least three kilos of gold and four tons of copper.

M rMakanza added that the mine was producing 50 percent of gold, and that another half was obtained from sand in which they also extracted copper after exporting containers outside the country to separate the two.

We have 179 containers here 152 others are kept at the Nazam Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Dar es Salaam and 21 others are at the port, he said. He added: Our Bulyanhulu counterparts have 108 containers at their mine and 104 others at Nazam ICD in Dar es Salaam.

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